The role of design in our work

We rely on design to help us provide people with a good experience in public space. We also believe that thoughtful design conveys respect for our community hosts. Over the years we’ve worked with architects, architecture firms, industrial designers, fabricators, and architecture students to develop pop-up infrastructure that we use all across New York City. We’ve also made and shipped the same infrastructure to organizations and agencies in other cities across the globe.

We are always looking for ways to generate new pop-up designs for the public realm and share the work of architects with neighborhoods across the city. Pop-up can address the needs of neighborhoods in the short term, even while long-term planning and design processes are underway. If you are a designer, architect, or fabricator and want to partner with us to put something great on the street, contact Leslie Davol.

A brief history of our collaborations with designers:

The first design we put into use consisted of a series of angular cubes that could be stacked to make a bookcase, held in place by magnets, with yellow protrusions that could double as benches. It was designed by architects Höweler + Yoon and built by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the supervision of Professor J. Meejin Yoon (of Howeler + Yoon) in 2011. The project was featured in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, and won an A+ Architizer award in the learning category.

Launched on Kickstarter:

The second design was a cart that unfolded to reveal shelves, inspired by co-founder Sam Davol’s years of touring with stage cases as a musician. It was also designed by architects Höweler + Yoon and was fabricated by Höweler + Yoon in June 2013.

Working with Bill Bancroft Furniture Design in 2015 and 2016, we then made further adaptations to this cart design, adding additional programs and developing custom solutions for partners.

In 2016, we worked with architect Joana Torres of Oficina Design to develop a design for a portable information sign and kiosk.
In 2017, we began working with Jaywalk Studio to make improvements to our original bench design, streamlining fabrication of benches for other organizations and cities.

In 2018, working closely again with Bill Bancroft, we developed designs for moveable tables and material storage units based on Tangram puzzle pieces.

Supporters of our design and fabrication work

  • 239 Donors via Kickstarter in 2011
  • Leaves of Grass
  • The Laura B. Vogler Foundation
  • Burning Man

Design and fabrication credits